A recurring series where we will profile every player on Maryland's roster, counting down to kick-off against William & Mary on September 1. Thanks to OBNUG for the idea.
Today we profile a player still adjusting to life as a linebacker.
Kenny Tate, Senior (RS), Linebacker, #6
Major: American Studies
Collegiate Stats: 197 tackles (83 assisted), 13.5 for a loss, five sacks, five fumbles forced, one fumble recovered, seven pass breakups, seven interceptions, one touchdown, six kickoff returns for 84 yards, six punt returns for 43 yards
High School Stats (Senior Year): 48 tackles, four interceptions, 32 catches for 489 yards and six touchdowns
Recruiting Ratings: Four stars by Rivals (#170 in nation, #4 in Md., #23 WR), Scout (#16 WR), ESPN (#134 in nation, #19 WR)
High School: DeMatha Catholic
Hometown: Forestville, Md.
High School Highlights:
Couldn't find any, so here are some old safety highlights:
How'd He Get to College Park?
Kenny Tate was one of the most highly coveted recruits coming out of the state of Maryland in recent memory, collecting reportedly more than 100 scholarship offers, a list that included Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech. There's an old rumor that Tate was going to go to Florida, but Aaron Hernandez surprisingly decided to come back for another year, so Tate's scholarship got filled, but we don't know the truth to that. He eventually narrowed his list down to Illinois (Locksley!), Penn State, and Maryland, and ended up choosing College Park because of its proximity to home and academics.
Tate excelled as a wide receiver at DeMatha, and that's where most people saw him at the collegiate level. To Ralph Friedgen's credit, he moved him to a position where he could make more of an impact, and Tate played in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2008, recording 15 tackles and breaking up a pass.He also got his first interception of his career in the Roady's Huminatarian Bowl off former Nevada quarterback and current 49er Colin Kaepernick.
A quick trivia question, who were the other three true freshmen to play for Maryland that year? The answer at the end.
In 2009, Tate played in ten games (missing the last two due to an ankle injury), and started four, ranking seventh on the team with 47 tackles. The next season is where he truly thrived. In 2010,Tate was a first team all-conference selection, second team All-American choice, and was in contention for the Bednarik, Nagurski, Lott and Butkus awards. He was one of the top defensive backs in the country, and was thought of as a potential first/second-round pick if he decided to go to the NFL draft.
Instead, Tate stayed, hoping for one last season to boost his stock under new coach Randy Edsall and new defensive coordinator Todd Bradford. Then, disaster struck. Tate was moved to a hybrid linebacker/safety position called STAR, and looked completely out of place in the first four games of the year. He had two interceptions in the four games, but didn't look his old self (even though he said he was comfortable with the move) and was a major cause of concern for Maryland fans.
Tate then hurt his knee, ruling him out for the rest of the season. He did it early enough to allow a redshirt, and he'll come back for a fifth season in College Park - luckily this team without Bradford.
Kenny "K-Tates" Tate
I really want to say the Florida State game in 2011, where Tate was absolutely dominating, but the Terps lost that one. Instead, it's got to be his fourth-and-goal stop to secure a win against Navy that year.
Everything about last year.
Tate finds his old self, earning All-American honors and leading Maryland's defense in the new system.
The injuries flare up, or Tate simply struggles to play at linebacker again.
Kenny Tate is in a very different position this season than he was last year. In 2011, Maryland fans were disappointed he moved to linebacker, but they were still (mostly) expecting another All-World performance from their defensive leader. There was no one really behind him at the position last year, and there was no reason to think of anyone else there.
This year, expectations are tampered. Tate's coming off a horrible year and a major injury. He's still playing linebacker (much to the Terps' fans dismay), but now Terp Nation knows what that looks like. Alex Twine is there, and ready to take over if Tate slips up. Is it possible that Tate plays a better, more free game without all the pressure?
Sure, but it's equally possible that he's just not suited to play linebacker. We'll have to see what happens, but a healthy, effective Tate goes a long way to making Maryland's transition to a 3-4 as seamless as possible.
Tate isn't a guarantee to start at SAM, either. There's obviously the threat of Twine, but the senior missed all of spring practice will recovering from injury. It's expected that he will start, but he could also be eased into the season, depending on his fitness level.
Our next player is one of two defensive team captains.